“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

~ Michael Jordan

If you’re like me, you’ve heard someone say “Failure is not an option” more than once in your life.  Mainstream culture has an irrational fear of failure.  The message is clear, we must win the first time through because there is no second chance.  Success is apparently some fleeting mistress that leaves at the first signs of weakness.  Real winners though, people like Michael Jordan, know the secret to real success.  They know the secret to real success is paved with more than a little failure.

You see, real failure isn’t in actually failing at a task.  People fail at tasks all the time and magically live to tell the tale.  Failure at a task simply means you didn’t succeed using your approach to the problem and that another approach would be more successful.  Realizing this and then applying a new approach is the purpose of failure.  While it would be nice if we succeeded at something the first time using the first approach that came to our minds, it certainly doesn’t represent a logical universe.  It’s a dream world where everything is bright and rosy and nothing goes wrong.  We don’t live in that world and you shouldn’t expect instant success the first time you do something.  Those that do, are doomed to real failure.

Real failure lives in the person who refuses to try again.  If you fail at something in life and don’t take a lesson from it and  try again then you have truly failed.  If you look at yourself day after day (physically, emotionally, or mentally), see something you don’t like, and dwell on your failure to change that instead of trying to do something different about it then you are defeated.  You need to understand that the only true barrier to getting something done is you.  Your inability to do something.  Your inability to learn from past mistakes.  Your inability to forgive yourself for not doing something before now.  You are the barrier to success.  Once you overcome that you need to understand that success takes time and make time a lot of iterations.

I say all of this to remind both myself and you that failure is not in eating a slice of white bread or having that chocolate fudge sundae.  That’s a mistake we take a lesson from to build on the future.  What triggered the desire for that bread or sundae?  How could I overcome it in the future?  Is there something I could do to intercept that action in the future before it happens?  Some of us may come into the Paleo / Primal lifestyle with the goal-oriented, end-in-sight mindset that predominates a lot of successful (in terms of commercial success) diet plans.  It’s all about reaching an end goal, a finish.  Failure to reach the finish is an issue to be addressed through subtle humiliation and peer pressure.  Living Paleo / Primal is different because it is a process-oriented, day-to-day, total lifestyle change.  We aren’t trying to reach a time-limited goal, we’re trying to change our lives forever.  There’s a lot more room for forgiveness and learning lessons when you have the rest of your life to work on it.

So remember, failure is not only an option, it’s welcome.  It’s how we learn, it’s how we change for the better.  As long as we get up when we fall down, the falling down wasn’t wasted.  Failure isn’t an impediment to success, it’s the way to achieve it.


One thought on “Failure

  1. Pingback: Daily Leadership Thought #127 – Embrace and Learn From Your Mistakes « Ed Robinson's Blog

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